Panama’s Tropic Star Lodge is renowned as a world-class fishery for a variety of species. And visiting South Carolina angler Mark Davis, 54, whole-heartedly agrees – especially for oversize Pacific cubera snapper.
Fishing on Dec. 14, Davis was filming a segment for his BigWater Adventures TV show when a giant of a cubera snapper ate a live hardtail bait near some shoreline rocks.
“We were 10 miles south of Pinas Bay, in about 80 feet of clear water when the fish hit,” Davis explained in an to Sportfishing. “It was a bright and sunny day with light wind, and we were fishing on a camp 31-foot Bertram boat. The snapper crushed a slow-trolled bait about 50 feet off shoreline rocks, and the battle was on.”
Davis used a 6-foot Penn rollered trolling rod, coupled with a Penn reel spooled with 80-pound test Seaguar braided line with a top-shot of 150-pound Seaguar Blue Label Fluorocarbon Leader. A 6/0 Gamakatsu circle hook was used with the live bait, says Davis.
“The snapper took a bait off a downrigger, trolled down about 50 feet,” says Davis. “I had 40-pounds of drag pressure and boated the fish in about 5 minutes.”
Davis reports that cuberas all make hard, powerful runs, and the bigger they get the more extreme the run and fight.
“I bring that tackle to Tropic Star specifically for the bigger fish, 50-pounds and up,” he says. “It greatly increases the chances of getting cuberas out of the rocks, so you can actually turn them (into open water). We call that ‘beating the brakes of ‘em’ when referring to cuberas.”
The fight with the giant cubera was filmed for a later TV show, photographed and promptly released.
“It was a great fish, and Captain Jose and his mate Manuel estimated the fish at better than 75-pounds,” says Davis. “All cubera snapper are released at Tropic Star Lodge, and that’s a good rule to maintain the remarkable fishery there.”
The current IGFA All-Tackle world record for Pacific cubera snapper is 78-pounds, 12-ounces, caught in Costa Rica in 1988 by angler Steven Paull. It’s also the IGFA Men’s 30-pound line class record for cubera
Whether Davis’ big cubera would have bettered that Costa Rican fish, or claimed another men’s line category for the species is not known since Davis’ fish was released without weighing or measuring it.
Davis also caught two more oversize cuberas that day live-bait trolling, a 40- and a 60-pound snapper.
“They’re such incredible fish, and so tough to fight— they’re just awesome,” Davis says.
When asked about the possible IGFA record for his biggest snapper, he shrugs it off.
“I’m not much of a record-seeker anyway,” he said.